Thailand Nears Historic Marriage Equality : Moving Towards Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage

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Thailand Same-Sex Marriage Legalization

Thailand is on the verge of making history by potentially becoming the second nation in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. This development follows the recent approval of a bill by the Thai House of Representatives, signaling a significant step towards legal reforms benefiting the LGBTQ+ community in this Southeast Asian nation.

Cabinet Endorses Marriage Equality Bill in Thailand

The Cabinet of Thailand, a key part of the executive branch responsible for policy decisions, endorsed a modification to the Civil and Commercial Code last month. This change, as reported by a government spokesperson to the Associated Press, involves substituting the terms “men and women” and “husband and wife” with “individuals” and “marriage partners.” This proposed amendment was then forwarded to the Parliament as part of a series of draft bills focusing on same-sex marriage.

Overwhelming Support in Thai House of Representatives

During a recent session, the House of Representatives, with 371 members, overwhelmingly endorsed this draft legislation, leaving only 11 dissenters. However, as Reuters notes, these bills require consolidation before a conclusive vote, slated for the following year.

Prime Minister’s Optimism and the Path to Law

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin expressed optimism in a social media post after the vote, indicating that Thailand is progressing towards equal rights for everyone. According to government records, a 39-member committee is tasked with reviewing these bills over a fortnight, making necessary amendments, and then presenting them back to the House. If the combined version of the bill gets through both the House and Senate, it would only need the assent of King Maha Vajiralongkorn to become law. This would establish Thailand as the second Asian nation to enact marriage equality legislation since Taiwan in 2019.

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Challenges and Opposition in Thailand’s Deep South

However, the impact of this same-sex marriage legislation in Thailand might be constrained, particularly in the Deep South, where Muslim religious laws often supersede national laws. Deputy Prime Minister Somsak Thepsuthin, as reported by Thai PBS, assured legislators that the proposed bill does not force religious leaders to conduct same-sex marriages. Despite this, the conservative Prachachat Party remains opposed, citing inconsistencies with Islamic teachings.

Amnesty International’s Views on the Legislation

Amnesty International, while applauding the legislative move as a stride towards enhancing LGBTQ+ rights in Thailand, criticized the bill for not sufficiently protecting transgender and nonbinary citizens and for permitting discrimination on religious or “national security” grounds. Nevertheless, Amnesty International Thailand researcher Chanatip Tatiyakaroonwong highlighted the significance of these bills in potentially rectifying legal disparities and promoting equal rights under international law, as demonstrated by LGBTI activists.

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